- CAPITEIN: A Critical Study of an 18th Century African, by Kwesi Kwaa Prah
Capitein's claim to fame or infamy derives from his thesis that slavery is not contrary to Christian principles. Slavery has long been banished from human social intercourse. Capitein continues to be remembered as the African who defended slavery.
The resurgence of interest in Capitein is also partly due to this current debate and its political undercurrent. Was Capitein such an irredeemable devil's advocate? "How could he betray his roots so thoroughly?" it is often asked. Lobengula in 19th century Southern Africa was tricked into a drunken stupor to "sign" away lands to colonialists. For Lobengula, it took alcohol to do the trick; for Capitein, was it not the over-kill of a dominant intellectual culture? Are the "black skin white masks" of today seriously different from Capitein?
Capitein's contraditions, the outer manifestations of his inner wranglings loom large when examined today. The absurdities of the period dramatized by the length of the ensuing historical time span and the changes in beliefs, values, and scientifically verifies facts of life, present in effect Capitein's weaknesses, in an almost trangicomic light.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KWESI KWAA PRAH is a scholar from Ghana, who has lectured int he Institute of South African Studies at the national University of Lesotho. He is currently based in Namibia.